Parliament Speaker slams imprisoned ex-pres. Saakashvili’s entourage for “efforts against justice”

Shalva Papuashvili, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, on Thursday commented on the developments around former president Mikheil Saakashvili. Photo: Shalva Papuashvili’s Twitter page, 29 Dec 2022 - 13:42, Tbilisi,Georgia

Shalva Papuashvili, the Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, on Thursday criticised the “domestic and foreign friends” of the imprisoned former President Mikheil Saakashvili for what he called their “efforts against justice” in the ongoing controversy over the former official’s conditions in detention.

In his social media post, Papuashvili alleged the public was “struck” by attempts of the former President’s legal team and a part of the domestic opposition to facilitate Saakashvili’s release and thus “prevent justice from being served” in the high-profile murder of banker Sandro Girgvliani by officials close to Saakashvili’s United National Movement Government in 2006.

The Parliament Speaker quoted an excerpt from the 2011 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in the case that said the Court had been “struck by how the different branches of state power all acted in concert in preventing justice from being done in this gruesome homicide case” of the 28-year-old Girgvliani, and drew a parallel with the current efforts of Saakashvili’s entourage in their alleged continued evasion of justice.

Papuashvili’s comments came ahead of the next hearing in a trial in Tbilisi City Court on whether Saakashvili will be granted release or postponement of the rest of his sentence on medical grounds, an outcome his legal team and some of the opposition figures have repeatedly called for.

Government officials have claimed the former official is engaged in “self-harm” in order to escape justice by worsening his health condition, and said Saakashvili and the opposition UNM party have engaged with their “partners” and “paid foreign lobbyists” in releasing “fake information” over the condition of the former President’s health in custody. 

Saakashvili has been receiving treatment at the Tbilisi-based Vivamedi clinic since May 12, after his transfer to the facility from a prison hospital.

The ECHR judgement in the Girgvliani murder said the domestic investigation into the case under UNM authorities had "clearly lacked the requisite, independence, impartiality, objectivity and thoroughness”, and ordered the Georgian Government to pay €50,000 in compensation to the family of the banker.

In October 2014, under the Georgian Dream authorities, Tbilisi City Court delivered a guilty verdict against former UNM Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili and other former officials involved in the case, with the former Minister earlier also charged with abuse of authority and forgery of testimonies in the case.